The Secretary General | Remarks at General Assembly Ceremony Marking the 75th Anniversary of the UN

Already we know that we need more — and more effective — multilateralism, with vision, ambition and impact.

The ideals of the United Nations – peace, justice, equality and dignity — are beacons to a better world.    

But the Organization we celebrate today emerged only after immense suffering.   

It took two world wars, millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust for world leaders to commit to international cooperation and the rule of law.   

That commitment produced results. 

A Third World War – which so many had feared — has been avoided.   

Never in modern history have we gone so many years without a military confrontation between the major powers.   

This is a great achievement of which Member States can be proud – and which we must all strive to preserve. 

Down the decades, there have been other historic accomplishments, including: 

  • Peace treaties and peacekeeping 
  • Decolonization 
  • Human rights standards – and mechanisms to uphold them 
  • The triumph over apartheid 
  • Life-saving humanitarian aid for millions of victims of conflict and disaster 
  • The eradication of diseases 
  • The steady reduction of hunger 
  • The progressive development of international law 
  • Landmark pacts to protect the environment and our planet 

Most recently, unanimous support for the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provided an inspiring vision for the 21st century. 

Yet there is still so much to be done. 

Of the 850 delegates to the San Francisco Conference, just 8 were women.  

Twenty-five years since the Beijing Platform for Action, gender inequality remains the greatest single challenge to human rights around the world. 

Climate calamity looms. 

Biodiversity is collapsing. 

Poverty is again rising. 

Hatred is spreading.   

Geopolitical tensions are escalating. 

Nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert. 

Transformative technologies have opened up new opportunities but also exposed new threats. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the world’s fragilities. 

We can only address them together. 

Today we have a surplus of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions.  

I welcome the General Assembly’s 75th anniversary declaration and commitment to reinvigorate multilateralism. 

You have invited me to assess how to advance our common agenda, and I will report back with analysis and recommendations. 

This will be an important and inclusive process of profound reflection.   

Already we know that we need more — and more effective — multilateralism, with vision, ambition and impact.  

National sovereignty —a pillar of the United Nations  — goes hand-in-hand with enhanced international cooperation based on common values and shared responsibilities in pursuit of progress for all. 

No one wants a world government – but we must work together to improve world governance.  

In an interconnected world, we need a networked multilateralism, in which the United Nations family, international financial institutions, regional organizations, trading blocs and others work together more closely and more effectively.  

We also need as the President said, an inclusive multilateralism, drawing on civil society, cities, businesses, local authorities and more and more on young people.    

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